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Mama's Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation

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A touching tale of parent-child separation and immigration, from a National Book Award finalist After Saya's mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother's warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she’s in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore o A touching tale of parent-child separation and immigration, from a National Book Award finalist After Saya's mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother's warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she’s in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore on cassette tape. Moved by her mother's tales and her father's attempts to reunite their family, Saya writes a story of her own—one that just might bring her mother home for good. With stirring illustrations, this tender tale shows the human side of immigration and imprisonment—and shows how every child has the power to make a difference.


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A touching tale of parent-child separation and immigration, from a National Book Award finalist After Saya's mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother's warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she’s in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore o A touching tale of parent-child separation and immigration, from a National Book Award finalist After Saya's mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother's warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she’s in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore on cassette tape. Moved by her mother's tales and her father's attempts to reunite their family, Saya writes a story of her own—one that just might bring her mother home for good. With stirring illustrations, this tender tale shows the human side of immigration and imprisonment—and shows how every child has the power to make a difference.

30 review for Mama's Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    I hate that I live in a time and a place when people are imprisoned without having committed a crime. I hate knowing that people who have spent their entire lives in refugee camps, more than twenty years are now trapped in a worse limbo because some ill-informed bigot has assumed the power and decreed that 26 years of vetting isn't enough. Apparently some people need reminding that everyone in the Americas is an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants. Some people are still refusing to accept pe I hate that I live in a time and a place when people are imprisoned without having committed a crime. I hate knowing that people who have spent their entire lives in refugee camps, more than twenty years are now trapped in a worse limbo because some ill-informed bigot has assumed the power and decreed that 26 years of vetting isn't enough. Apparently some people need reminding that everyone in the Americas is an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants. Some people are still refusing to accept people desperately trying to escape from countries where their own leaders are hunting them down to kill. Some people have learned nothing from the murder of six million Jews, that they can ignore desperate people trying to keep their remaining families alive in the face of religious bigotry. Maybe the next generation will be less stupid and cruel.

  2. 4 out of 5

    paula

    Any time a parent is incarcerated, it throws the family into crisis. Incarcerating parents who have committed no crime, whose offense is a lack of proper immigration documentation - has the same far-reaching, sometimes disastrous effects on the family as does the incarceration of a dad or mom who has committed criminal offenses. This is a beautiful book with a happy ending - an ending I wish for all families separated in this way.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Does a nice job of humanizing the issue, and also highlighting the media's role in motivating the pubic's support. Good stuff. Does a nice job of humanizing the issue, and also highlighting the media's role in motivating the pubic's support. Good stuff.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A poignant, touching story reflecting the unfortunate, painful experiences of far too many contemporary immigrant families. Beautiful folk art illustrations by Leslie Staub.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Ok, just tear my heart out with this book; need to read it to Madam so we can talk about this.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Toni Rose Deanon

    This is a perfect pair for American Street by Ibi Zoboi and I cannot wait to read this aloud to my students. It is about a Haitian little girl whose mom is deported because she is "without papers." The little girl struggles to understand why her mom isn't with her. It's a story, I believe, that is worth reading about especially with everything going on now with immigration. This is a perfect pair for American Street by Ibi Zoboi and I cannot wait to read this aloud to my students. It is about a Haitian little girl whose mom is deported because she is "without papers." The little girl struggles to understand why her mom isn't with her. It's a story, I believe, that is worth reading about especially with everything going on now with immigration.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gabriela Alvarez

    This book is recommended for Gr.K-3rd This is a heart warming touching story about a little girl named Saya, who lives with her father and has been separated from her mother. Her mother was detained while she was working and was sent to a prison that is for woman who are undocumented immigrants. Saya's mother left Haiti way before she was born, and hadn't fixed her papers yet. Saya and her father, visited her mother weekly, and it was heartbreaking every time she had to leave and be torn away fro This book is recommended for Gr.K-3rd This is a heart warming touching story about a little girl named Saya, who lives with her father and has been separated from her mother. Her mother was detained while she was working and was sent to a prison that is for woman who are undocumented immigrants. Saya's mother left Haiti way before she was born, and hadn't fixed her papers yet. Saya and her father, visited her mother weekly, and it was heartbreaking every time she had to leave and be torn away from her mother's arms. The only consolation Saya had was the cassettes her mother would send with lullabies and made up folkloric stories, although some stories were sad. One day, Saya asks if she can write stories to her mother too, and as soon as she does, her father sends them to a reporter. Later, Saya gets interviewed, and people learn how much she has missed her mother. Because of Saya's words, her mother is brought before a judge and is released back to her family until her situation gets settled. The story ends with the family finally together, and Saya and her mother sharing warm stories together. At the end this story has a warm ending where Saya's words brought her and her mother together again. The illustrations in this book were very colorful and vivid, and at the same time warm. You can see the love between the mother and her daughter, and you could feel the sadness depicted in the pictures when they they were torn apart. I think this book hits home for many children now a days, who come from homes or know someone who has had to be separated from their loved ones because of their legal status. I'm glad this story had a happy ending although that is not always the case, but this is also a good story for children to learn about how other children who are in these circumstances feel and understand them. This story also provides a sense of hope, and shows how strong a love can be and unconditional even when families are apart. I would definitely recommend this book. I also heard it in the audio version and it is really beautiful. You can really here the love in the mother's song. I really enjoyed listening to it, and it really made the story come to life. I found this book in the Jane Addams Children's Book Award list

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cherilyn Munoz

    Overall this book does a great job addressing the problem of not being able to have your parent home because of not having the proper documentation. I also love how this story is not based on Latinx communities. This book addresses the issues of who and what can be done for people who are undocumented. The illustrations are phenomenal and the resolution of the book left me feeling hopeful and to believe in the government. When undocumented people are on the news, the issue is mostly referencing Overall this book does a great job addressing the problem of not being able to have your parent home because of not having the proper documentation. I also love how this story is not based on Latinx communities. This book addresses the issues of who and what can be done for people who are undocumented. The illustrations are phenomenal and the resolution of the book left me feeling hopeful and to believe in the government. When undocumented people are on the news, the issue is mostly referencing Latinx communities. This book breaks that stereotype because although the majority of the people are Latinx, this information does not mean there are others who are undocumented as well. I also think about how the language of Haitians is included can address the issue of the unknown and a value to the culture. If the stories had not been included the child would have nothing to connect to his mother about anything other than seeing her. The illustrations do not demonstrate stereotypes. The father, on the other hand, does have proper documentation and has to both provide and care for his child while the mother is away. He also pays attention to the worries and tries to find a solution to getting his family back together instead of further tearing his family apart. Another aspect, I was surprised at how writing letters to their representatives and people in government to encourage the liberation of the mom. Since the father believes in the power of writing to the government, the child can imitate the same and writes a story about his mother. Since he was a child and he was the one to find a solution to the problem by gathering media attention. This book does a wonderful job of showing how the problem affects the girl and yet she was able to solve it. I think about how this will encourage the children to more involved in their government because by the time the children grow up they view government as something that only adults can change. But in this book that is not the case, because the girl was young and her passion leads to having her mother home, just like in the folktale.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Edwidge Danticat, nominated twice for the National Book Award in the adult category, here writes a book for children based in part on her own experiences as a child in Haiti. She was separated from her parents while they tried to get immigration papers for her and her brother to come join them in the U.S. In this story, Saya, a little Haitian girl living in America, is longing for her mother, who has spent the previous three months in a prison for women without immigration papers. Even though Say Edwidge Danticat, nominated twice for the National Book Award in the adult category, here writes a book for children based in part on her own experiences as a child in Haiti. She was separated from her parents while they tried to get immigration papers for her and her brother to come join them in the U.S. In this story, Saya, a little Haitian girl living in America, is longing for her mother, who has spent the previous three months in a prison for women without immigration papers. Even though Saya and her Papa visit Mama very week, Saya misses her terribly. The parents come up with the idea of the mom sending Saya a cassette tape every week, on which she records bedtime stories for Saya to listen to at night. In turn, Saya writes for a story her Mama about Mama’s absence, and Papa sends it to one of the local newspapers, which decides to print it. Soon Papa and Saya are interviewed on the local news, and a judge rules Mama can wait for her papers at home. Mama creates a new story, about how “a smart and brave little nightingale helps her mommy find the right rainbow trail, and the mommy follows it home.” As the author reveals in an end note, “According to the United States’ Department of Homeland Security’s Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the people Saya refers to as the immigration police, over 70,000 parents of American-born children have been jailed and departed in recent years.” The vivid oil-painting illustrations by Leslie Staub are done in the style of Haitian folk-art, employing bright colors and lots of fascinating whimsical details. Evaluation: This is a heartrending and heartwarming story, with gorgeous art work.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alex Baugh

    Saya, a young Haitian American girl, misses her mother more than anything. But her mother is being held in an immigration detention center. Saya and her father visit her mother every week, but she still misses her so much that each day she listens to the message her mother put on their phone's answer machine. One day, she accidentally erased the message and can no longer her her mother's voice. Then, Saya received a cassette tape in the mail, and that night she falls asleep listening to her moth Saya, a young Haitian American girl, misses her mother more than anything. But her mother is being held in an immigration detention center. Saya and her father visit her mother every week, but she still misses her so much that each day she listens to the message her mother put on their phone's answer machine. One day, she accidentally erased the message and can no longer her her mother's voice. Then, Saya received a cassette tape in the mail, and that night she falls asleep listening to her mother singing, then telling her a bedtime story. Meanwhile, Saya's father writes letters to everyone - judges, politicians, TV reporters - all to no avail. One day, Saya asks to write her story, too. A few days later, a newspaper reporter calls and wants to talk to Saya. Her story is published, and is even told on TV. Her mother gets a hearing in front of a judge, is allowed to go home and wait there for her papers to be processed. This is, above all, a story about the impact that removing an undocumented parent who has committed no crimes has on her family. In 2015, when it was published, this book held possibility and hope for families caught in these circumstances. In 2017, that hope is gone, but the negative impact on a child remains. Staub's oil painted illustrations are colorful and whimsical, with blues and pinks predominating and reflecting a Haitian folk art style.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Kotkin

    Poignant story about a little girl struggling with her mother's absence. Her Haitian mother is in jail for illegal immigration. She and her father write letters to government officials and the media in the hopes of bringing her mother home. This picture book is a tearjerker with a happy ending. The folk art brings the little girl's dreams and emotions to life and complements the story well. I especially like the symbol of the two nightingales, one in a cage and the other with a key. While this i Poignant story about a little girl struggling with her mother's absence. Her Haitian mother is in jail for illegal immigration. She and her father write letters to government officials and the media in the hopes of bringing her mother home. This picture book is a tearjerker with a happy ending. The folk art brings the little girl's dreams and emotions to life and complements the story well. I especially like the symbol of the two nightingales, one in a cage and the other with a key. While this is clearly an "issue" book, it stays focused on the child and includes just the right amount of detail to explain the subject but not overwhelm the young audience. Good for classroom use to introduce a lesson or start a discussion, though teachers would need to be careful not to encourage too much sharing of the children's own families (just in case - you never know). Even better to keep in a classroom library for children who need to quietly find their way to it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Helen-Louise

    A lovely picture book about separation, but a very particular kind of separation. Saya's mother is an undocumented immigrant - in the United States without papers. Danticat looks at this from the little girl's perspective. She just misses her mother and wants her back. Mama misses Saya as well, and tries to bridge the absence by sending home tapes of bedtime stories to be played for Saya. The art work, by Leslie Staub, is lovely, evoking the family's home culture. The ending is up-beat and happy A lovely picture book about separation, but a very particular kind of separation. Saya's mother is an undocumented immigrant - in the United States without papers. Danticat looks at this from the little girl's perspective. She just misses her mother and wants her back. Mama misses Saya as well, and tries to bridge the absence by sending home tapes of bedtime stories to be played for Saya. The art work, by Leslie Staub, is lovely, evoking the family's home culture. The ending is up-beat and happy for young readers, but older readers and adults will pick up on the cloud remaining - Mama is home awaiting a final decision. She does not have a permanent legal status in this country. Lots to think about - and often it is the children who pay the price while we think.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Brehl

    The content of this story might seem intimidating to a very young child, and yet the happy resolution underscores the determination of a family to overcome difficulties and reunite. The sweeping, dream-like, flowing illustrations use vibrant tropical colors and images, supporting the cultural references and lyrical text. There are few books dealing with this subject matter and this is an important one that easily bridges the line between entertainment and information. As the story suggests, if m The content of this story might seem intimidating to a very young child, and yet the happy resolution underscores the determination of a family to overcome difficulties and reunite. The sweeping, dream-like, flowing illustrations use vibrant tropical colors and images, supporting the cultural references and lyrical text. There are few books dealing with this subject matter and this is an important one that easily bridges the line between entertainment and information. As the story suggests, if more adults were aware of the human side of these situations we might be able to shift the tone and direction of our national conversations about immigration.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Esther Soberanis

    Text-to-World Connection Mama's Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat is an inspiring text that many people in the world today, who are living right here in the United States can relate to. People from many different countries come here to have the American dream. At the same time, the struggle of the path to becoming a Documented Alien or Permanent Resident caused families to be apart in a detention center or deported back to their country. Each and every foreigner has a journey before then to become Text-to-World Connection Mama's Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat is an inspiring text that many people in the world today, who are living right here in the United States can relate to. People from many different countries come here to have the American dream. At the same time, the struggle of the path to becoming a Documented Alien or Permanent Resident caused families to be apart in a detention center or deported back to their country. Each and every foreigner has a journey before then to become a US citizen with courage, determination and help from officials in government. Just like in the text Saya and her dad reach out for help.

  15. 5 out of 5

    June

    A much needed story of a family separated due to a family member's illegal status. Saya's mother was picked up while working in a restaurant. Saya and her father are allowed to visit and Saya's mother sends cassettes with bedtime stories. (Happy ending, but brought tears to my eyes.) A much needed story of a family separated due to a family member's illegal status. Saya's mother was picked up while working in a restaurant. Saya and her father are allowed to visit and Saya's mother sends cassettes with bedtime stories. (Happy ending, but brought tears to my eyes.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Damn. I frigging HATE that this book needs to exist. Saya is separated from her mom, who is in a detention facility for immigrants without papers. I won’t go in a rant about how borders are imaginary and there is no humanity inherent in this kind of shit- oh wait - maybe I will. Read this book if you think that it’s totally fine to “lock ‘em up and deport them”, and maybe grow a soul somewhere along the way. This one has a nice ending. I can only hope that the real ones can, too.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    Reading library books with the Littles is always fun. While they enjoy me reading to them, I love their questions and observations.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Misty

    Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation, by Edwidge Danticat Rationale Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation is culturally significant in a few ways. First, it features a Haitian immigrant family, and readers are exposed to elements of Haitian culture, including Haitian Creole language (“Mama loves you anpil, anpil, very, very much,” says Saya’s father, for example) and references to Haitian folklore and fruit. Secondly, Mama’s Nightingale tells the story of a Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation, by Edwidge Danticat Rationale Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation is culturally significant in a few ways. First, it features a Haitian immigrant family, and readers are exposed to elements of Haitian culture, including Haitian Creole language (“Mama loves you anpil, anpil, very, very much,” says Saya’s father, for example) and references to Haitian folklore and fruit. Secondly, Mama’s Nightingale tells the story of a young girl, Saya, whose mother was sent to an immigration detention center because she is undocumented. The second example is the main reason why I chose to include this book in my culturally diverse text set, as it introduces readers to a group of people – undocumented immigrants – that they may know nothing about (or hold stereotypes about), largely because members of the group keep silent. Who would want to tell his/her stories if it meant he/she would be taken away from his/her family? If a person is afraid to speak, how can others ever understand his/her point of view? I think it is very important for children to learn about and discuss the challenges undocumented immigrants face in our country, especially since the topic seems to be on the news everywhere right now. Students need to learn how to look at both sides of an issue before forming their own opinions, and Mama’s Nightingale reminds readers that immigrants are, first and foremost, people, and deserve respect and understanding, just like anyone else. Reflection: Text to Self This book really hit home for me personally, as I have both undocumented friends and immigrant, non-citizen in-laws. Many people don’t realize just how difficult it is to obtain work permits and green cards, let alone citizenship to our country (unless, of course you are born here). It can also be incredibly difficult to marry a citizen without being deported. My brother-in-law is German; my sister met him in Germany when we were just fifteen years old. He attended college here for one year, and that was very easy (student visas are pretty easy to get), but as soon as my sister and he got engaged and applied for a marriage certificate, the INS made things very difficult. My sister and brother-in-law spent almost two years filling out paperwork, writing letters, paying lawyers to guide them through the process . . . the legal aspect was mind-boggling, and I can completely sympathize with all of the work Saya's father does (letter-writing, court dates) to try to secure his wife's immigration papers. In the end, my parents had to assume permanent financial guardianship of my brother-in-law in order to get him permission to live here, something that continues to interfere with his ability to obtain loans and live life like any other resident of our country. Reading Mama’s Nightingale highlighted the reasons why many people are here illegally: they want to have a better life or might fall in love with someone in our country (as Saya's mother did), yet cannot navigate the labyrinthine immigration system that exists here in the United States. Text to World As I pointed out in my rationale, I also connected this book to current world events. With the presidential election season in full swing, immigration is something every candidate is talking about, making Mama’s Nightingale even more salient. This book serves to remind people of the human aspect of the issue. Discussion Questions 1. Remembering – What has Saya’s mother recorded on the cassette tape? 2. Understanding – Can you discuss how the cassette tapes help Saya get through the months when her mother is in the detention center? 3. Applying – Have you ever been separated from someone you loved? What things did you do to help you feel better until your loved one returned? 4. Analyzing – Saya’s father writes many letters to judges, politicians, and news reporters asking for help. Saya writes one. Can you contrast the way the reporters react to Saya's father's letters with the way they respond to her one letter? 5. Evaluating – Do you think it was right for the judge to let Saya’s mother come home while she waited for her papers, or do you think she should have been made to stay in the detention center? Why? 6. Creating – At the end of the story, Saya’s mother asks her to finish the story “about the mommy nightingale who skips over rainbows, trying to get home.” What other adventures could the mommy nightingale have on her journey? Can you write your own version of the nightingale story?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vamos a Leer

    This book, best for ages 5-8, tells the story of a Haitian, immigrant family in the U.S. and a young girl who, amidst pain and separation, finds solace in her mother’s tales. As the protagonist overcomes some difficult challenges, she also learns to recognize the power of her own words. The story centers on Saya, who is struggling with the separation from her mother, who has just been sent to “Sunshine Correctional” for not having “the right papers”. The name of the prison where Saya’s mom is bei This book, best for ages 5-8, tells the story of a Haitian, immigrant family in the U.S. and a young girl who, amidst pain and separation, finds solace in her mother’s tales. As the protagonist overcomes some difficult challenges, she also learns to recognize the power of her own words. The story centers on Saya, who is struggling with the separation from her mother, who has just been sent to “Sunshine Correctional” for not having “the right papers”. The name of the prison where Saya’s mom is being held reflects the practice of sugar-coating the real traumas that immigration laws and the separation of families inflict. In Danticat’s Author’s Note at the back of the book, she explains how this story is largely inspired by her own experiences as a child in Haiti dealing with the trauma of separation from her parents who moved to the U.S. Her parents tried to send for her and her brother, but could never succeed for they lacked “the right papers”. Danticat explains that she was always fascinated by “the idea of having the right papers” and how this abstract platitude weighed on many of her childhood memories: “As children in Haiti, my brother and I sometimes played writing games, making up passports, visas, and other documents that might one day reunite us with our parents.” Additionally, Danticat writes, “According to the Unites States’ Enforcement (ICE), the people Saya refers to as the immigration police, over 70,000 parents of American-born children have been jailed and deported in recent years. This book is dedicated to those children, who, like Saya, are dreaming of the day when their mother, or father, or both parents, will come home.” Danticat recreates her own childhood memories while infusing the story with elements of action, hope and change. The story begins with Saya listening to her mother’s voice on the answering machine late at night. Mama is not at home and Saya listens to the answering machine when she misses her mother. The voice says in Haitian Creole, “Please, leave us good news!”: “Tampri kite bon ti nouvèl pou nou!” Mama’s voice foreshadows the hopeful charge of the story and the goal of “good news” that drives the protagonist’s actions. Saya and Papa go to visit Mama in prison and Saya is overwhelmed by sadness upon seeing her mother. In the short time they have together, Mama tells Saya traditional Haitian stories about the wosiyòl, “a beautiful nightingale who loves the taste of a sweet cottony fruit called a soursop”: “Mama leans over and hums the wosiyòl’s song in my ear. The melody is as soft as Mama’s touch and as sweet as a real soursop”. Wosiyòl is also Mama’s nickname for Saya, as she too loves the taste of the soursop fruit. This reference to the tales of the wosiyòl, coupled with Staub’s evocative illustrations, presents the songbird as a symbol of freedom. Throughout the book there are also illustrations of birds perched on the interior windowsill of Mama’s jail cell, and caged songbirds in the decorative margins of the text, which represent, as readers may surmise, a lack of freedom. During Saya’s visit with Mama, Mama gives her a package with cassette tapes of her “wind-chime voice singing about the soursop and the nightingale” so that Saya can listen to her mother’s voice before bed. When Saya puts the cassette tape in she listens to Mama’s songs and an additional tale that Mama made up herself. In an illustration to match, Staub paints Mama as a beautiful spirit coming to visit Saya at night, with songbirds, hearts, stars and flowers swirling around her in a dream-like flurry. However, Mama is also shown with a rope strung across her arm, and two caged birds tied to either end. This symbolizes the shackles that have been placed on Mama in real life, despite the temporary reprieve of Saya’s dream. For access to the full review and additional resources, check out our Vamos a Leer blog at teachinglatinamericathroughliterature.com

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alexis Imler

    Danticat, E. (2015). Mama’s nightingale (L. Staub), New York: Dial Books Recommended grade level: K-3 Format: Diverse Text Set Themes: Helping others, world-wide diversity, caring, love, immigration, family Major Awards: 2016 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Younger Children Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2015, Picture Books Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2015, Picture Books New York Public Library’s 100 Notable Titles for Reading and Sharing 2015, Children’s Books 2016 CCBC Choic Danticat, E. (2015). Mama’s nightingale (L. Staub), New York: Dial Books Recommended grade level: K-3 Format: Diverse Text Set Themes: Helping others, world-wide diversity, caring, love, immigration, family Major Awards: 2016 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Younger Children Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2015, Picture Books Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2015, Picture Books New York Public Library’s 100 Notable Titles for Reading and Sharing 2015, Children’s Books 2016 CCBC Choices– Picture Books for School-Age Children 2015 Cybils Award Nomination, Fiction Picture Books Best Multicultural Books of 2015 Charlotte Zolotow, 2016 Highly Commended Children’s Book Committee Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of 2016, Today Summary: The book Mama’s Nightingale tells a story about a young girl whose mother is a Haitian immigrant. Her mother has been imprisoned because she is undocumented and Saya’s father tries to petition with the mayor and news to help bring his wife back home. No one ever responds to her poor father. Therefore, Saya’s mother would record bedtime stories when she was away and mailed them to Saya to withhold their love and connection. After all of her father’s rejection from the news, Saya decides to write her own letter and receives so much attention that her mother is brought back home! Personal Response: I think that this book could be used for higher grade levels because it has such a deep and rich meaning that could integrated into the classroom. The book talks about a heartbreaking topic that may not be understood as deep with lower grade levels. This book made me feel very sad because I think of all of the children that experience their parents being taken away from them and I want to offer support to all of my students who are experiencing pain in their lives and make my classroom a family, fun, and friendly atmosphere that fosters a love for learning and care. Illustrations: The illustrations in the book are very bright and colorful. The art represents folk are with a flair of Caribbean that creates a positive and upbeat feeling that hides the sadness of a little girl whose Haitian mother has been sent away to a prison for undocumented immigrants. The illustrations go right along with the words and create a vivid and understanding image for the audience to connect with. Without the visuals, I do not believe that the story would have been as strong because my mind would have wandered in various directions. Reader Response/Classroom Connections The overarching message of this book is that love cannot be broken and one cannot give up no matter what. All it takes is a little faith, love, and determination to find answers. Art: Students can use crayons to create drawings like the author. The students can create their own stories that go along with their life. Mathematics: Students can count the various colors within the text. Language Arts: Students can examine the book’s illustrations, identifying elements that help to reveal character, underscore the author’s message, and symbolize big ideas and explaining how these elements help to convey the story. History: The teacher and students can do research on immigration and talk about the impacts that it makes on families across the globe.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amy Lee

    Hoo boy, this one’s a punch to the gut. And a reminder that there’s nothing new about inhumane family separation in this country.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tram Nguyen

    Part of an immigrant experience, it is more than just facing challenges in new environment, but there is also the emotional challenge that they may or may not see their parents ever again. Mama's Nightingale is a realistic fiction where Saya faces more than her feeling of sadness and despair, but also a problem and fear that her mom possibly won't return. In this situation, her mother was sent to an immigration detention center for not having her papers, so she was undocumented, which is one of Part of an immigrant experience, it is more than just facing challenges in new environment, but there is also the emotional challenge that they may or may not see their parents ever again. Mama's Nightingale is a realistic fiction where Saya faces more than her feeling of sadness and despair, but also a problem and fear that her mom possibly won't return. In this situation, her mother was sent to an immigration detention center for not having her papers, so she was undocumented, which is one of the worst ways to face when you are an immigrant. Some have had their parents deported back or never arrived to the country, and it is difficult for children and we can never tell if they are feeling this way. The fact that the author would describe an undocumented person as a person without papers is a better explanation than saying they were illegal. They may have come to the country illegally does not mean they are an illegal person, they are just a person without papers. This book helps illustrates how they face and how they are comforted. It is a serious situation, but Saya was determined and inspired by her father's story that she wrote her own story. This can relate to many students who miss their parents or siblings whether they are out for the navy or divorced parents but the concept of separation. I like that the author incorporated text with a few Haitian Language to feel real as if you are part of the news. Also, when Saya was comforted by the sound of her mother's words reminded her to stay strong and hopeful. The illustrations were a bit abstract but it was interesting and captivating, because you'd have to look at it carefully and try to figure out what is going on. They were metaphorical pictures about the nightingale throughout the book such as the bird with the key flying though the courthouse with hearts would describe the feeling of having the key back to the mother's home. I also like how their skin color was very dark, because some books about African Americans are typically not that dark, and there aren't enough representative.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    Saya’s mother has been taken to an immigration detention center and held for three months. Saya misses her a lot, spending time at night listening to her mother’s voice on the answering machine. Her Papa spends his evenings writing to judges and the media to find help, but no one ever responds. Every week, Saya and Papa go to visit her mother, but it is always hard to leave her behind again. Then Saya’s mother starts to record stories for her, all based on Haitian folk tales, some sad and some h Saya’s mother has been taken to an immigration detention center and held for three months. Saya misses her a lot, spending time at night listening to her mother’s voice on the answering machine. Her Papa spends his evenings writing to judges and the media to find help, but no one ever responds. Every week, Saya and Papa go to visit her mother, but it is always hard to leave her behind again. Then Saya’s mother starts to record stories for her, all based on Haitian folk tales, some sad and some happy. Saya decides to write her own letter to the media and gains their attention. Soon Mama is brought before a judge due to the pressure brought by the media and viewers. The judge allows her to return home until her papers arrive. Danticat is a National Book Award winner for her adult books. In her Author’s Note she speaks to the impact of immigration and separation in her own childhood. In the United States in recent years, over 70,000 parents of American-born children have been jailed or deported. This is an issue impacting every community in our country. Danticat offers not only a view of how this separation affects a child, but also a way forward for both children to feel they are doing something to help and parents who are jailed to stay in touch with their children through stories from their heritage. Beautifully written, this picture book sings the message of diversity, inclusion and humanity. The illustrations by Staub are lush and colorful. They show the power of the human voice and shared stories in a visual way, swirling the page with images of Mama as well as from the stories being shared. The colors of joy infuse the pages just as the colors of sorrow appear on others. It is a very effective way to show the myriad of emotions that Saya is feeling. An important book that is beautifully written and illustrated, this picture book belongs in every library. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kenzie Wright

    Danticat, E. (2015). Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers. Rationale: I selected this book for my culturally diverse text set because it is a story about immigration. It focuses on a little girl (Saya) who is waiting for her mom to come home from Sunshine Correctional, a prison for women without papers. Saya’s mother is from Haiti and came to America before she met Saya’s father, so she never had the right papers. Mom sends letters Danticat, E. (2015). Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers. Rationale: I selected this book for my culturally diverse text set because it is a story about immigration. It focuses on a little girl (Saya) who is waiting for her mom to come home from Sunshine Correctional, a prison for women without papers. Saya’s mother is from Haiti and came to America before she met Saya’s father, so she never had the right papers. Mom sends letters and audiotapes telling Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian Folklore. Dad writes letters to the judge, mayor, congresswoman and all the media that he can and never gets a reply. One day, Saya writes their story and it hits the newspaper and it hurries up the process to get mom home. This story offers a perspective on immigration that young students can relate to. Often children don’t understand why they can’t be with their family. Text to World and Text to Self: This reminds me of how many people in the world or dealing with immigration. Some students’ you might not realize that the reason they are living with other family members is because they are waiting for their parents papers to be approved. Last year, I had a first grade student who had never met her dad he was still in Sudan and she wasn’t sure when he would come home. Her mother told me and I knew that he would be coming home this year and got to see all of the happiness when the family was back together. Blooms Taxonomy Level 1. What does Wosiyol mean? Level 2. Do you know of another instance where families are waiting for papers to stay in America? Level 3. How is the title Mama’s Nightingale significant to the story? Level 4. What differences exist between the letters that Papa wrote to the newspaper and Saya wrote? Level 5. What would you predict after reading that Saya would be writing her own story? Level 6. Give your opinion on what you think immigration is.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Diana Garcia

    This story about a little girl who is facing the effects of separation from her mother due to her mother's immigration status. It talks about her mom being in prison since she doesn't have the right papers. It shows the toil the girl faces on the inside with having to endure the pain of not having her mom and missing her. It also shows what it's like to visit her at the facility. The ending gives the readers a sense of hope since she's the reason her mom comes home. This is another story that I'v This story about a little girl who is facing the effects of separation from her mother due to her mother's immigration status. It talks about her mom being in prison since she doesn't have the right papers. It shows the toil the girl faces on the inside with having to endure the pain of not having her mom and missing her. It also shows what it's like to visit her at the facility. The ending gives the readers a sense of hope since she's the reason her mom comes home. This is another story that I've chosen to write about to represent the variety of cultures facing immigration. Also showing the pain behind separation and what children face when they are going through something many aren't familiar with. The story line can help children relate to emotions that the little girl had to face in the book. It will definitely help the children consider her emotional state and question what kind of papers did the book talk about and so forth. It's age appropriate for children to understand a hard topic. The problem is presented which includes a good plot leading up to the solution at the end. The characters in this book are well represented and give a glimpse of the Haitian culture. The illustrations are full of color and correlate to the text of the book. The language is easy to understand while also introducing a new language. The illustrations enhance the story by portraying the emotions on the child's face, showing her thinking out loud, and overall helps explain the story better. Culturally it definitely helps give insight into a culture many may not know about. It give children a new perspective of this particular culture because people may not know Haitians can be immigrants too. The author connected with the story because this is what happened to her when she was young. She had to deal with separation and the process of seeing her family go through these issues of immigration.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christine Turner

    A touching tale of parent-child separation and immigration, from a National Book Award finalist After Saya's mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother's warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she's in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore on cassette tape. Moved by her mother's tales and her father's attempts to reunite their family, Saya writes a story of her o A touching tale of parent-child separation and immigration, from a National Book Award finalist After Saya's mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother's warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she's in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore on cassette tape. Moved by her mother's tales and her father's attempts to reunite their family, Saya writes a story of her own, one that just might bring her mother home for good. With stirring illustrations, this tender tale shows the human side of immigration and imprisonment, and shows how every child has the power to make a difference. Subject: Mothers and daughters -- Juvenile fiction. Separation (Psychology) -- Juvenile fiction. Detention of persons -- Juvenile fiction. Emigration and immigration -- Juvenile fiction. Haitian Americans -- Juvenile fiction. Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and came to America at age twelve to live with her parents in Brooklyn. She studied French literature at Barnard College and received her M.F.A. from Brown University. Her work has achieved both popular and critical acclaim. Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994), her first novel and master's thesis, garnered Danticat a Granta Regional Award for Best Young American Novelist and was chosen as an Oprah Book Club selection, a singular honor. Her collection of short stories Krik? Krak! (1995) was nominated for the National Book Award. Along with awards for fiction from Seventeen and Essence and the 1995 Pushcart Short Story Prize, Danticat was chosen by Harper's Bazaar as "one of 20 people in their twenties who will make a difference," and by the New York Times Magazine as one of "30 Under 30" people to watch. Her second novel, The Farming of Bones (1998), concerns a massacre in Haiti in 1937.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Rationale: After finding Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk, I decided to center my text set around the idea of being separated from someone you love, as this is not only a universal experience (helping to make text to self connections), but can have so many different manifestations when looked at in relation to different cultures. In looking at this theme, I found the book Mama’s Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub. Mama’s Nightingale tells the story of a mother and daughter who ar Rationale: After finding Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk, I decided to center my text set around the idea of being separated from someone you love, as this is not only a universal experience (helping to make text to self connections), but can have so many different manifestations when looked at in relation to different cultures. In looking at this theme, I found the book Mama’s Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub. Mama’s Nightingale tells the story of a mother and daughter who are separated when the mother is sent to jail for not having proper immigration papers, with the possibility of facing deportation. For children facing this situation, it could be a powerful experience to see themselves reflected in this literature, and to know that someone else has gone through the situation of having their parent separated from them by immigration laws, prison, or both. For those individuals not in the situation, I think the book is a powerful and important window. Text Connection: While reading Mama’s Nightingale, I thought of students who are separated from their parents due to immigration laws, specifically remembering years ago when there was a raid on a meat packing plant in Grand Island, and hearing about all the students who suddenly found themselves without parents at home. Discussion Questions: Remembering— Why was Saya’s mother in prison? Understanding— Explain what actions Saya and her father took to try and get her mother out of prison. Applying— What examples can you find to show the family missed each other and wanted to stay connected? Analyzing— Why do you think the judge let Mama come home while she waited for her papers? Evaluating— Do you agree with the judge’s decision? Why or why not? Creating— What do you think is the reason for the birds featured throughout the book?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tiana Valentin

    Mama's Nightingale is a story about a Haitian family who is separated by the immigration police due to the mother's lack of papers. Every night, Saya (the young girl) goes to bed replaying her mother's bedtime stories and praying for nothing other than to be reconnected with her mother. Saya is determined to do whatever it takes to help get her mother back home - no matter how big or small! After reading this book, I would rate it a 4 out of 5. The illustrations are very colorful and vibrant, and Mama's Nightingale is a story about a Haitian family who is separated by the immigration police due to the mother's lack of papers. Every night, Saya (the young girl) goes to bed replaying her mother's bedtime stories and praying for nothing other than to be reconnected with her mother. Saya is determined to do whatever it takes to help get her mother back home - no matter how big or small! After reading this book, I would rate it a 4 out of 5. The illustrations are very colorful and vibrant, and the author does a really good job at conveying emotion within the text. Overall, I would say that this book acts as a really good "mirror" and "window" into the lives of those families that are separated due to their immigration status. Some other books that deal with immigration and separation that could be connected to this book are The Journey by Francesca Sanna, and Stepping Stones by Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Ali Badr. This book can also be paired with several online resources that discuss immigration and separation. Quote: "The next time we visit Mama, I do my best not to cry. I sit on her lap and kiss her whole face. I don't ask when she's coming home, because she doesn't know either." The entire book raises the social justice issue of separation; however, this quote stands out the most. In this brief section of text, we immediately empathize with Saya and feel her pain. We understand that this is a situation that many people face, and it is completely out of their control. Families that deal with this separation literally go do-to-day not knowing what will happen next. This quote can be used to start a discussion about this social justice issue or can even be used within a writing prompt. However used, it is sure to evoke emotion and reflection.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melody Stewart

    The realistic fiction story is captivating for children as they think about the families who are not able to be together due to immigration policies. Some children will relate to this story because it depicts aspects of their lives, and others will be able to consider the struggles of living apart from a family member. The rich, thick plot follows a little girl whose mother is in prison because she is undocumented. The problem of the story is the difficulty and heartbreak the father and daughter The realistic fiction story is captivating for children as they think about the families who are not able to be together due to immigration policies. Some children will relate to this story because it depicts aspects of their lives, and others will be able to consider the struggles of living apart from a family member. The rich, thick plot follows a little girl whose mother is in prison because she is undocumented. The problem of the story is the difficulty and heartbreak the father and daughter face while the mother is in prison. As the father writes to petition for his wife to be brought home, the daughter listens to stories her mother records. One day, the daughter decides to write letters as well and is recognized by a newspaper. The newspaper article allows the mother to be brought before a judge and eventually come home to her family. The style and language used throughout the book is appropriate for children. The illustrations for this book are beautiful and attractive to children. They correspond to the text and enhance the story. The characters represented in the story are Haitian and give readers an insider’s perspective in an immigration story. The characters are genuine. The father loves his daughter and does everything in his power to have his wife back home. The little girl is sad, scared, and does not understand why this is happening to her family. The mother sends comfort and love to her family even though she is unable to physically be with them. The author grew up in Haiti with extended family members while her parents worked in the United States and struggled to get papers that would allow her and her brother to join them. Inspired by her own story, she wrote this book for children who are separated from their family members.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Celeste Lopez Mendez

    Not only is this book diverse in characters but it talks about immigration and incarceration! After we learn that Saya's mother, Mama is in jail (Immigration Detention Center), she was picked up while working in a restaurant. We learn that Mama sends Saya bedtime stories that are inspired by her Haitian folklore. Saya writes a story of her own, a story about her own experience. It's a very touching story! I cried through it. I highly recommend this book to everyone! The book checklist is below. Not only is this book diverse in characters but it talks about immigration and incarceration! After we learn that Saya's mother, Mama is in jail (Immigration Detention Center), she was picked up while working in a restaurant. We learn that Mama sends Saya bedtime stories that are inspired by her Haitian folklore. Saya writes a story of her own, a story about her own experience. It's a very touching story! I cried through it. I highly recommend this book to everyone! The book checklist is below. The story: ☑ is interesting to children. ☑ offers children a variety of things to think about, question, or consider. ☑is age-appropriate and children can understand what is represented. ☑ includes a rich, thick plot. ☑ includes a problem and resolution. ☑utilizes style and language that are appropriate for the children’s ages and interests. ☑includes realistic, convincing characters. The illustrations: ☑are accurate in terms of setting, plot, and characters. ☑correspond to the text. ☑hold the children’s interest while the text is read. ☑enhance and add to the story. Cultural considerations: ☑ Characters represent a variety of cultural groups. ☑Children are exposed to multiple perspectives and values. ☑ There are no negative stereotypes of the represented groups. ☑ The lifestyles of the characters are genuine and complex not oversimplified or generalized. ☑ The characters use speech that accurately represents their culture and oral traditions. ☑ The author and/or illustrator are a part of the group represented. ☑ “Good” characters reflect a variety of backgrounds. ☑There is diversity represented within cultural groups.

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